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Nonfiction November Week 3 Wrap-Up

You guys, I had such a good time reading all the posts for this week’s Nonfiction November prompt, Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert. I’m sorry this wrap up is getting published so late, I had a crazy week and just finished commenting on the last post a few minutes ago.

Here are the bloggers and topics that made up this week’s prompt. Be sure to click over to those you haven’t read yet, or those topics that are especially interesting to you (especially those near the bottom of the list) — a lot of them were really creative:

Heather at Based on a True Story — People Forced to Leave Their Homes

Kazen at Always Doing — Doctors Doing Their Thing Awesomely

Unruly Reader — Self-Improvement Books

Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest — Books About the Intersection Between Our Physical Being and Psychological Being

Julie at Julz Reads — Mountains

Beth at Too Fond — Raising Children With an Awareness of Nature

Emma at Words And Peace — France

Katherine at Writerly Reader — Folklore in the Digital Age

Kim at Time2Read — U.S. Presidents

Lindsay @ Lindsay’s Library — Dogs, Animals, Exploration, History, Medicine, Science, Travel, War

Lory at Emerald City Book Review — White Trash and Hillbilly Elegy

Anne@ Head Fullof Books — Mental Illness and Abnormal Psych

Juliana at Wild Places — Maritime Disasters

raidergirl3 at an adventure in reading — Feminist Theory 101, Biology Topics, and Black History Month

Eva at The Paperback Princess — Hollywood

Maphead’s Book Blog — Iran

Iliana at Bookgirl’s Nightstand — Bookbinding

Trav at HeadSubhead — Bookshops

Tara at Running ‘n’ Reading — Staying Injury-Free

Sarah at Sarah’s Bookshelves — Reading and Writing Life

Angela at Literary Wanderer — Female Heroes

Susie at Novel Visits — Women and World War II

Nick at One Catholic Life — Spiritual Reading

Deb at The Book Stop — U.S. Politics and Current Events

Heather at Gofita’s Pages — Death and Dying

Kristilyn at Reading in Winter — Memoirs

JoAnn at Lakeside Musing — Books About Books

Buried in Print — Residential School System

Literary Lindsey — Gardening and Local Eating

Novels and Nonfiction — World War II

Carrie at Other Women’s Stories — The Kennedy’s

Jessica at The Bookworm Chronicles — Christian Nonfiction

Brona’s Books — The Holocaust

TJ at My Book Strings — History and Development of Free Speech

Tina at Novel Meals — Ex-Pat Literature

Thanks to all who have participated so far! Next week’s host is Katie at Doing Dewey who will be asking about Nonfiction Favorites:

We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.


Because putting together book lists is my favorite thing – I’m really excited to be hosting this week’s topic of Nonfiction November – Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert:

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’m going to break the rules a little bit and offer up a list that’s a combination of Be the Expert and Become the Expert – three books all about genes and genetics.

First, the two books I’ve already read:

The Family Gene by Joselin Linder

For years, members of Joselin Linder’s family have come down with a deadly illness that doctors cannot explain. As Linder struggles to understand her own mysterious symptoms – a blocked liver, swollen legs, and a heart murmur – researchers she spoke with suggested that the illness haunting her family may actually be a private genetic mutation. In the book, Linder explores her family’s medical history, the development of gene science, and what it’s like to be a young woman with a potentially fatal mutation making choices that would affect generations to come. I was gripped by this book from the first page, and will be recommending it often.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book is one of my go-to recommendations for people who say they just aren’t interested in nonfiction because it is just so good. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman from Baltimore, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Without her consent, cells from her cancerous tumor were biopsied and cultured, creating the HeLa cell line. HeLa cells, which have continued to reproduce continually, are known as an “immortalized cell line,” and have been part of many of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of the last 60 years. Based on extensive research and interviews with the Lacks family, this book is a masterful exploration of the intersections of medicine, class and race in the United States.

And finally, the book I am really curious to read now:

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Siddhartha Mukherjee is one of the best science writers out there right now. I’ve read his first book on cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, but haven’t gotten around to his second, The Gene. In the book, Mukherjee looks to answer the big question posted by genetic science: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information? Mukherjee uses the story of his own family’s struggle with mental illness to explore the science and social history of genetic science and how the things we’re learning now may play out in the real world. He digs deep into the history of genetics, and looks forward to what we know now thanks to the mapping for the human genome.

And Now It’s Your Turn

And now, since I’m the host this week, it’s your turn to share your book lists. If you’re participating this week, feel free to link up your posts to the Mr. Linky below:

Thanks again to everyone who has participated so far. And don’t forget you can join us over on Instagram for our photo challenge using the hashtag #nonficnov. If you follow the hashtag, you’ll find the list of prompts. I hope you’ll join us!


Something on Sunday: Back to Work!

Happy Sunday! A couple of weeks ago Jenny at Reading the End decided to launch a little project called Something on Sunday, a way to celebrate the little things in life and share some love for the things that matter most. She encouraged people to blog every Sunday “about something that kept you on your feet that week,” big or small, bookish or not, that’s happening right now.

My Something on Sunday for this week happens to be big, and sort of bookish — after almost seven months of unemployment, I got a job!

Since mid-October I’ve been working as the social media specialist for the Washington County Library system. It’s a new position for the library and for the county, which means I’ve had a lot of room to experiment and make the job my own. In general, I’m responsible for running the library’s social media presence, analyzing data about our digital efforts, and strategizing how to better support the work being done at the libraries in our system. It’s so much fun.

I feel like working at a library is sort of the dream for bookworms. This isn’t exactly where I expected to land when I began my career exploration in March, but it also feels like exactly the place where I should be. I’m still adjusting to the fact that my season of sabbatical is over, but I also feel like a kid in a candy store when I get to walk up to the cataloging department and sneak a peek at all the new books going out into the world… so it kind of all evens out.

The transition of going back to work full time has been a little rough. I feel like I’m having to learn to manage my time all over again (through something like the fourth or fifth major change in the last 18 months), but one thing I have now is a greater capacity to give myself a break. Things will settle out soon enough, and at that point I hope to be back here more regularly. Thank you all (again and again and again) for your patience and kindness and good cheer — this community is amazing and I miss being a more active part of it.

Also, I decided to try bangs… photos to come.


Nonfiction November Week 2: Book Pairing

The first week of Nonfiction November was so much fun. I didn’t get to read all of the posts because of some life constraints, but the ones I did get to read were great. Thanks to everyone who has participated so far!

The second weekly prompt for Nonfiction November is Book Pairing, hosted by Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves:

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together.

Earlier this year, I had one of the best movie-going experiences of my life, Wonder Woman, which is the inspiration for today’s response. Before seeing the movie, I knew that representation was important, and that there’s something significant in seeing someone who looks like you on a screen doing the cool things we all love. But I didn’t really understand the emotional impact that representation can have until I had to hold myself back from cheering and crying when saw Gal Gadot pick up a truck and throw it at a bunch of German soldiers.

Ever since seeing the movie, I’ve joined the legion of new fans trying to understand this character and dig into her long history in the comic book world. Two books I’ve read this year that I really loved have been (fiction) Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo and (nonfiction) Wonder Woman Unbound by Tim Hanley.

On the fiction side Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a new take on Wonder Woman’s origin story set when Diana is a teenager. Like many other origins, this book begins with a rescue. The human Diana saves is Alia Keralis, another teenager who turns out to be a Warbringer – a descendant of Helen of Troy destined to bring an age of bloodshed to the world. With help from the Oracle, Diana realizes she can help save Alia and save the world, so they set out together to do just that.

Like all of Bardugo’s novels, the cast of characters in this book is just stellar. They’re vivid and funny and flawed and so fun to spend time with. This take on Diana’s first foray into the human world, complete with romance, technology, and friendship, captured the spirit of Wonder Woman in a satisfying way, while also updating her story to fit a new generation of readers. I adored it completely.

Wonder Woman Unbound is an academic’s look at the history Wonder Woman, from comics to the small screen (since it was published in 2014, it doesn’t include the recent movie). The book was a delight, a perfect mix of nerdy humor, data and close reads of the Wonder Woman comics published since the 1940s. Hanley convincingly argues that portrayals of Wonder Woman – more than those of most comic book heroes – reflect the motivations of a particular creator rather than the complicated, slightly subversive values of her original creator William Moulton Marston.

Hanley is a comic book historian, so his take on Wonder Woman can be a little academic in sections. There’s a whole chapter on bondage themes in the comics, which includes a number of charts tracking the specific instances and context for bondage references. The book is still absolutely readable, and in parts very funny, it’s just not the typical narrative nonfiction that I like to recommend.

Thanks again to everyone who has participated so far. And don’t forget you can join us over on Instagram for our photo challenge using the hashtag #nonficnov. If you follow the hashtag, you’ll find the list of prompts. I hope you’ll join us!


Whew, October. It was a big, busy month that seemed like it flew past me with great speed. Thinking about Nonfiction November must have gotten me excited, because a good chunk of my reading this month was already nonfiction. I kicked off October with three great true stories, and managed to finish plenty during the Readathon as well. Here’s what I read last month:

  1. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder (nonfiction)
  2. The Family Gene by Joselin Linder (memoir)
  3. Reset by Ellen Pao (memoir)
  4. What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Ariman (short stories)
  5. A Moonless, Starless Sky by Alexis Okeowo (nonfiction)
  6. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer (nonfiction)
  7. Lumberjanes, Volume 3: A Terrible Plan by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen (comics)
  8. Lumberjanes, Volume 4: Out of Time by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen (comics)
  9. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (fiction)
  10. After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry (memoir)

I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite — they were all great reads. The only book that felt disappointing was The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, but that was mostly because I was expecting a sort of rompy heist book, and it was instead a pretty serious look at the rise of Islamic extremism in Africa. Important, but just not quite what I was expecting. Someday I will get back in the practice of writing book reviews… this is just not that day.

A Look to November

Just as November was kicking off, two fiction books I’ve been on hold for at the library FOREVER came in… so I’ll probably be making time to read Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid this month. But other than that, my entire TBR is nonfiction! Here’s what’s in the queue:

  • The Return by Hisham Matar — I need to finish this one up before my book club meeting this weekend, so it’s top of the list.
  • Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo — I just got a notification this memoir about “a teacher, a student, and a life-changing friendship” came in for me at the library, so it’s top of the list too.
  • Code Girls by Liza Mundy — There no excuse for the fact that I stalled out half way through this book… it’s really good, I just stopped. So, I’m going to finish!
  • Bunk by Kevin Young — Graywolf Press nonfiction is so great. I am all in for a book on the history of hoaxes, alternative facts, and fake news.
  • Spineless by Juli Berwald — This is a book about jellyfish!
  • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen — How many times do I have to say I am going to read this book about unruly women before I actually finish it. Only time will tell…

There you have it, a peek back at my October reading and a peek ahead to what I’m hoping to finish in November. If I can keep myself from wasting time on social media on my phone, I think it will be a great month of reading.

What books are you excited about in November?